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What are the serious side effects of antipsychotic medications?

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There are a few serious side effects that are possible, especially with long-term use of antipsychotic medications. These side effects include:

  • Tardive dyskinesia: This is a movement disorder that results in unusual and uncontrollable movements, usually of the tongue and face (such as sticking out the tongue and smacking the lips), and sometimes jerking and twisting movements of other parts of the body. It can be treated by taking deutetrabenazine (Austedo) or valbenazine (Ingrezza).
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome: This is a potentially fatal disorder characterized by severe muscle rigidity (stiffening), fever, sweating, high blood pressure, delirium, and sometimes coma.
  • Agranulocytosis: This is a condition marked by a sharp decrease in the number of infection-fighting white blood cells. This condition can leave you open to infection and at greater risk of death. Agranulocytosis has been particularly linked with Clozaril, where it may happen in 1 in 100 patients. People taking Clozaril must have regular blood tests to closely monitor their white blood cell count. All antipsychotics have a warning label from the FDA that says they could lower your white blood cell count.
  • Changes in blood sugar and cholesterol: Some atypical antipsychotics can raise your blood sugar (which could eventually lead to diabetes) and blood lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Regular blood tests are necessary to monitor these factors.

From: Drugs to Treat Mental Illness WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES: 

National Institute of Mental Health: ''Mental Health Medications.'' 

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: ''Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome.'' 

Jose, M. July 15, 1993. New England Journal of Medicine,

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg on November 20, 2017

SOURCES: 

National Institute of Mental Health: ''Mental Health Medications.'' 

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: ''Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome.'' 

Jose, M. July 15, 1993. New England Journal of Medicine,

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg on November 20, 2017

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What happens if the antipsychotic drug side effects are particularly troublesome?

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